Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 1019)

Simon Shirt (from

A few weeks back I discovered – “an open source platform for made-to-measure sewing patterns.” The founder Joost De Cock loves sewing and programming, and he combined them in this amazing platform that allows you to upload your measurements and then generate a custom sewing pattern PDF exactly to your size. Oh, and everything is free, and he transfers all donations to charity. How could I not fall in love with that? ❤️

Most of the patterns would be considered menswear. That said, I love that Joost makes a point of not enforcing a gender binary anywhere. The Measurement docs, for instance, have an option for breasts or no breasts. Boobs make a difference to the shape of a garment, but your gender identity doesn’t. It’s a nice touch.

As luck would have it, when we were visiting my Mom’s fabric shop in the US back in August, the Snook asked if I’d make him a new shirt. He really liked this repro vintage cotton, and Mom insisted that we take it. I warned him that quilting cotton could be a bit heavy for a man’s shirt, but I was willing to try. I’d made him several shirts before using Colette’s Negroni pattern, but I felt ready to try something a bit more complex. When I saw the Simon Shirt on freesewing, I knew it was the one.

After signing up for the site, I had to create a “model” and upload all the required measurements. That was fun. Then I was able to generate a new draft Simon pattern from it. There are a ton of options. We went with the Classic theme with a baseball hem, regular yoke, extra top button, cut-on classic button placket, cut-on French style buttonhole placket, and rounded barrel cuffs. I printed out my PDF, stuck all the pages together, and got going.

I use Costco tuna fish cans for my pattern weights!

I spent a lot of time on cutting. I hadn’t realised until the Snook pointed it out that the fabric is actually directional, so I needed to make sure everything was going the right way. I cut it so that the “vines” were running vertically on the body, back and sleeves; and they ran horizontally on the collar, collarstand, yoke, and cuffs. I spent way too long trying to get the pattern to match up exactly across the two fronts, not realising that because my button placket was cut-on, the point I was using for reference was going to be folded under anyway. 🙃 So there’s my first tip: If you’re using the cut-on plackets, fold your pattern pieces as if they’re the fabric so you know exactly where things need to line up. Don’t assume you can tell just from the lines.

This thing gave me such grief!

Next I had to sew the cuffs and the collar together. The collar stand is where I ran into difficulty, but I didn’t realise it until way later. I failed to recognise that it’s not symmetrical – the end with the buttonhole is longer than the end with the button. When you sew the collar to it, you’re meant to center the collar over the notches along the bottom edge. I missed this completely and centered my collar along the length of the collar stand, which meant it was ever-so-slightly offset from where it should be. And because it’s asymmetrical, that means you need to make sure you sew it all together so that the buttonhole is on the correct side to line up with the left body front. This all came out when I was attaching the collar towards the end of the process, and I ended up pulling it all apart and starting over. So my advice for the collar would be: Keep track of which piece is the collar and which is the undercollar. When the collar is facing up, it should be attached to the collar stand so that the buttonhole is on the right. Make sure you center the collar over the collar stand notches. (It’ll look slightly off-center.) 

The body construction was fairly straightforward. It has diamond darts on the back, which was new for me in a men’s garment. This is a very fitted shirt. (By contrast, the Negroni is fairly roomy in the back and actually has two pleats under the yoke.) There’s no interfacing along the cut-on button plackets, which I liked, just a series of folds. The instructions have you use the “burrito method” for the yoke construction, which I love. It’s always so magical to turn that burrito right-side out and suddenly have a nice neat shirt!


The sleeve placket construction was new to me. Colette uses a single piece for it, but this one has separate pieces for the overlap and underlap. I actually think this version looks better than my Negroni attempts, but it does result in two very small unfinished edges visible on the inside of the sleeve. (I was worried I’d somehow missed a step so I messaged Joost about it, but he confirmed that it’s intentional and shouldn’t be a problem.) The third photo here shows it…


Then it was time to sew in the sleeves… and I ran into trouble. I had failed to notice that my armholes were a rather peculiar shape. The top of the yoke and the body fronts were exaggeratedly wide in a way I hadn’t seen before. I figured it would all come together in the end and proceeded to sew in a sleeve. When I had the Snook try it on, it stuck out in a point like a military epaulette. So I unpicked it and looked at the pattern again, and I compared it to other shirts as well as other patterns. It was definitely not right. After much hemming and hawing, I decided to bite the bullet and just lop off the pointy bit. Sewing in the sleeve was easier then, and it didn’t result in a pokey-outtey point.


My solution was drastic, and it didn’t fix the issue that the armhole was still more scooped out than necessary. Once I had the sleeve in, I could see that there’s still some weirdness around the armpit. I can live with it. After poking around the Freesewing docs, I’m guessing that one of our measurements around the shoulder area was probably incorrect. The ratio of top of shoulder to back width is probably the culprit. I also discovered that Freesewing helpfully provides a “comparison” preview of your pattern so you can identify these issues before you cut out your fabric. In my case, you can tell immediately that there’s something off about the armholes and shoulder. If I’d seen this before cutting, I would’ve double-checked my measurements and fixed it then. So the next tip: Use the Draft Comparison Preview to check whether any of your pieces look odd. If they do, chances are you had something wonky in your measurements and you should fix it before you cut out your fabric.


Oh, and I won’t even go into detail on my issues with creating flat-felled seams. That’s nothing to do with the pattern or the instructions; that’s just my own lack of practice with them. They look fine from the outside, but the inside – especially around the top of the sleeve caps – is a bit bodgy. I’m cool with that. I’ll get better the more I do.

As I headed into the home stretch, I came up against that baseball hem. Hm. Hemming something with such exaggerated curves was not easy. The pattern indicates that I’ve got 3cm for them hem, which should be folded up at 1.5cm twice. That was just not gonna happen, not without making some cuts on the curves that I didn’t feel comfortable doing. So I decided to go with a skinnier hem (1cm folded twice), which was still tricky but slightly easier. It’s still a bit bodgy over the very curvy bits, but it’s not too bad.

The final step was to sew the buttonholes – all 13 of them! I was very happy that my faithful old Janome has a pretty decent automatic buttonholing foot. I bought medium cream buttons for the body and cuffs, and a couple teesy ones for the wrist opening plackets. Final tip: Make sure you sew the buttonholes on the correct (top) side of the cuffs, otherwise you’ll have to unpick everything and flip them around (like I did). 🙄 Then it was just sewing on all those matching buttons… And here’s the finished result!


So as you may have gathered from my “favourite tweets” post of late, I had kind of a weird thing happen. One of my tweets went viral for the first time ever.

It all started when a friend from Singapore shared a link on Facebook to this blog post. It’s about a recent controversy where the CEO of  Make magazine accused a Chinese maker named Naomi Wu of being “fake.” He endorsed an anonymous and sexist rumour that she was merely a front for a group. He’s since apologised, but the damage was done and Naomi is seeing the fallout amongst sponsors and advertisers. The blog post is an attempt to objectively talk about some of the biases at play in the community that led to this situation.

In the comments — and I know, you should never read comments — I read this one from some MRA activist defending Dougherty and smearing Wu. Part of it reads:

4) From Make’s own numbers, 80% of their audience are men. The “lack of diversity” that is complained about here, which we often hear about in STEM in general, is seen as axiomatic, despite now several decades of gender equal policy. Women do not seem as interested, even if nothing is stopping them from being interested. This is the myopic ideology of diversity uber alles, which ignores factual realities of the kind that got James Damore fired from Google.

No. Just… no. Plenty of women are interested in engineering and fabrication and creating cool stuff, just as plenty of them are interested in technology and programming. They’re just not interested in putting up with the techbro bullshit that goes along with a lot of that. And 80%? In what universe? Only going by the narrowest possible definition of “maker.” What about the millions of women (and non-cis men and non-binary folks) sewing and knitting and embroidering and crocheting and cooking? Why don’t they count too?

I actually attended a panel that Dougherty was on during Maker Faire Singapore back in July. It was a small event just aimed at educators primarily, but they had an open Q&A at the end. I couldn’t resist directing a question at Dougherty. I said that I was personally uncomfortable claiming the term “maker,” because I came from a long line of women crafters. Why did he feel the need to come up with a new name for just doing what they’ve been doing for generations? To me, I said, it felt gendered, a way for men to distance themselves from “girly” pursuits. He smiled politely and answered that the “maker” umbrella was very large, and that knitters and sewers and everyone else I’d mentioned were all official makers too. He tried to spin it as inclusivity. But I wasn’t asking to be admitted to his club; I was trying to get him to admit why he didn’t want to be part of mine. He was very nice though. We connected on LinkedIn afterwards, where I messaged him about my motivations in asking the question. He sent a short response that he appreciated where I wanted to go with the question and wished me luck.

So, anyway. I read that stupid comment on Sunday morning and it made me see red. So I dashed off an annoyed tweet, as I’ve done any number of times, and then got to work on my latest sewing project. The tweet got a couple responses from friends, and I noticed throughout the day that more and more notifications started coming through. By 5pm I’d hit 1000 likes, more than I’d ever gotten before. By the time I went to bed, it had topped 2000 and seemed to be picking up steam. I noticed happily that Ysolda Teague (a big name in the knitting world) had retweeted it:

I woke up Monday morning to 10K+ likes and 440 unread Twitter replies. Some sort of critical mass had been reached and it just kept going and going. Several people thought they were being helpful by tagging Adam Savage, asking him to retweet or send a reply. By this point I’d also had a handful of responses from trolls though, and I started to get worried what would happen if it got more visibility. (Sadly, this is a reality of being a woman on the Internet.)

By Monday afternoon it was over 20K likes and 5K retweets. Cory Doctorow retweeted it, which is the closest I’ve ever gotten to Boing Boing. I was amused to see Andy Richter had retweeted it too. (Quoth the Snook: “Are you sure it wasn’t one of his brothers?” 😂) Twitter Analytics told me that it had had over 1M impressions (aka views). I had several hundred new followers. A few of my friends who had replied early were getting tagged in heaps of replies as people read down the thread and chimed in. (Sorry Jane and Lindsay!)

Many, many folks helpfully told me about Jacquard looms and how textiles had inspired programming. Yes, I KNOW. I pointed them to the various talks I’ve done that actually cover that. Many other folks expressed their support for including textile arts and traditional crafts under the “maker” umbrella, pointing out that their local makerspace has a sewing machine or proudly proclaiming that “knitters and quilters are makers too.” (Again, not really what I was going for, but I appreciate the sentiment.) A few folks connected the dots to the Make controversy and weighed in on that topic. Mostly it was hundreds of people saying, “Yes, this. Language matters.” in various forms. It turns out that a lot of us suspect the “maker” label only became popular as a way to market to men. My favourite hot takes:

There were only a handful of people who responded negatively – I’d say less than 25 overall. One guy thought I was clearly just jealous of men who programmed and were DISRUPTING THE WORLD with their COOL APPS and stuff. (He stopped responding when I pointed out I’d also been working in tech for 20 years.) Others were insistent that making and crafting were different, but none of them agreed on what the difference was. Making involves ENGINEERING and TECH, you see. Or crafting involves LOVE. Or it had something to with a level of craftsmanship. Maybe we should look up the definition from William Morris? And why was I trying to foment some sort of gender war anyway? Couldn’t we just embrace both terms, separate but equal? One guy insisted over and over that we needed both terms because how else would people know to direct their enquiries to him (a maker) or his wife (a crafter)? 🙄

Replies have continued to trickle in over the past two days. One of my favourites came from David New, the son of noted knitter Debbie New:

72 hours after the original post, things seem to finally be getting back to normal. Activity has died down enough that my mentions on Twitter are usable again. I’ve picked up about 800 new followers so far. The tweet has been viewed more than 1.7M times, liked 28K times, received 500 replies, and been retweeted 8500 times. I’ve been invited to appear on a podcast about the topic in a few months. That’s all pretty cool! A lot of folks have sent me lovely comments about my knitting talk videos, and I especially liked when crafters would send me photos of their own projects. The whole thing’s been quite a ride!

Sorbetto Blouse

Earlier this year, Colette announced that they’d revamped their excellent free Sorbetto pattern. I’ve made five different tops using the old version – Dr. Who tank, Wonder Woman tank, Lucky Cats tank, Red Flowers tank, and Liberty blouse – so I was curious to see what had changed. The new one uses a different block (basically: the default body it’s designed for), and they also revised the size range to go a lot higher.

This is a quick project, and I had it finished within an afternoon. I sewed up Version 3 using some mystery fabric I got when my friend Jody’s Mum sold off her stash. (It might be a blend? It doesn’t get very wrinkly, which is nice.) I used some premade navy bias tape to finish the neckline on the inside. I cut a straight 18 based on measurements, but I think I might blend to a smaller body size next time as it’s quite roomy around the midsection. The pleat down the front is wider than on the old one. I’ve got a little tightness across the back of the shoulders, which I suspect means I might need to do a broad back adjustment on the next one.

Still – a quick project that resulted in a very wearable blouse for summer!

Behind the “Jang” in Gochujang

A primer on Korean fermented sauces—plus, a look inside a master jang maker’s studio

Today I learned that the Korean government actually designates people as “Korean Food Grand Masters.” Wow. 😮

Pie Crusts

Wow. 😳

Me to the Snook just now: “You need to up your game!”

Frocktober 2017

As I’ve done for several years running now, I’ll be raising money this “Frocktober” for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. I’ll be wearing a different dress every day of the month, with over half of them made by me personally. Last year‘s total was $1481.04, so this year I’m aiming to top $1500. If you’d like to help, my fundraising page for 2017 is here:

This year I’m offering a special perk: for the first three folks who donate $100+, I will personally teach you to sew your own dress (or something else if you’re not a dress wearer)! I’m not going to do it for you, but I’ll walk you through choosing a pattern, picking out fabric and supplies, and every step of the sewing process. If you’re not in Sydney, this might have to be a combination of email and video chat, but we’ll make it work. 😄

DDD Perth 2017

Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to give the locknote at DDD Perth 2017. DDD stands for “Developer! Developer! Developer!,” and it’s a community-run conference that happens in locations around the world. The goal is to put on an event that anyone can attend, so it’s held on a Saturday and the cost is just $50. The Perth event attracted 330+ attendees and featured 19 speakers across three tracks.

I actually got to Perth a few days early so I could attend some usergroups and meet with some local contacts. I went to the Fenders meetup as well as the launch of the new Junior Dev Perth group. The latter was incredible – the room was full of 90 energetic attendees, most of whom were just starting out in their careers. Well done to LJ and the JuniorDev team for this much-needed westward expansion!

Then it was time for DDD Perth! The speaker/sponsor/volunteer drinks were held Friday night at the rooftop bar of The Reveley. It was fun but loud.

The day of the conference started out really foggy, oddly. Apparently that’s a thing that happens in Perth every now and then?! The morning keynote was Gojko Adzic, straight from YOW! Singapore. He talked about some of the coming challenges for software quality posed by things like the cloud, AI and biometrics – including amusing anecdotes like the one about the DMV system brought down by a set of twins.

The talks throughout the day were all excellent. My friend Nathan Jones gave a talk called “Death by Good Intentions” that talked about some of the common mistakes and pitfalls he’s seen teams fall into over the course of his career. I especially liked his point about choosing mature technology like PHP over perpetually chasing shiny new things.

My friend Sam Ritchie also gave an informative, pun-tastic talk called “Flying Solo – lifehack your way to a pants-optional workplace”. It was all about how to quit your job and start your own company. My favourite part was the slide with an actual flowchart to answer the question: “Should you put on pants today?”

I was lucky to get to meet Patima Tantiprasut earlier this year on a visit (and then again when she came to Sydney with Localhost). She gave a great short talk called “Web, Wellness and Getting Sh*t Done”, all about strategies you can use to prevent mental burnout. Really welcome advice! (Not to mention a nice tie-in to my own talk later in the day…)

After lunch I saw a few more excellent talks, but to be honest I was more than a little preoccupied with my own looming locknote! I especially liked Donna Edwards‘ talk on hiring and retention for diversity, and Christian Prieto‘s entertaining presentation on the history and programming challenges of the Atari 2600.

And then it was time!

My talk was called “The Campsite Rule – Leaving the Tech Industry Better than We Found It”. The general idea was that a lot of the time, the tech industry feels like a dumpster fire. The temptation to walk away is ever present (especially when shit like this happens). It leads to a lot of us burning out. One of the things that’s been keeping me motivated and engaged is recent years is mentoring, and I wanted to convince the experienced devs in the room to get more involved with guiding the next generation. I included as much practical advice as I could for both prospective mentees and mentors. Yeah, it got a little ranty at times. (There may have even been an F-bomb in there.) But everyone seemed to take it in the right spirit, and I was gratified by how many folks sent me wonderful tweets or wrote blog posts saying how inspiring they found it.

Some photos from the conference Flickr page:


I had to laugh at that stretch of them. I’m a fairly, uh, expressive speaker, I guess you could say. 😂

My slides are up on Slideshare if you want to take a look, and I’ll share the video when it becomes available. Some of the images are from our recent trip to Yellowstone; some are from Unsplash; and some are from WOCinTech Chat.

Thank you again to the DDD Perth organisers for inviting me to participate in this wonderful event! It was my first ever keynote, and there were many times over the preceding months where I kicked myself for agreeing to do it. (I’m a procrastinator with a tendency towards constant guilty thoughts, so there was some stress.) I’m so happy I did it though! And I can’t say enough about the tireless volunteers and organisers, and how great a job they did putting this event together. If you ever get a chance to attend or speak at a DDD in the future, you definitely should.

Fashion It So

How did I not know that there is a blog dedicated to the fashion of Star Trek: The Next Generation? This is GENIUS.

“The Amazing Eyes of Kuda Bux” – Roald Dahl Fans

It’s not often I get to read a story by Roald Dahl that I’ve never read before! Recently I had that wonderful thrill though when I finally managed to track down a copy of Dahl’s 1952 essay “The Amazing Eyes of Kuda Bux” in an old magazine on eBay. Head over to Roald Dahl Fans to read the rest…

Data Weave

Very cool. I’ve been a fan of GLITCHAUS‘s work for years. (He’s been mentioned in a couple different versions of my “Knit One Compute One” talk.) I’ve just taken the opportunity to back this latest project, ordering a scarf woven with the binary from the ILOVEYOU virus.

Me: “…considering it was a formative experience in our relationship ☺”

Snookums: “You mean, you going to the pub while I helped fix it?”

Me: “exactly”